//My crazy llamas//

Hellooooo! I actually found some time to blog during the week – what is this sorcery?? 😂😂

Anyway, I’ll have to be quick as evening school awaits (ugh) but I just wanted to write a little post of appreciation to my crazy llamas – a.k.a my squad.

Honestly, they are the most amazing people ever. They never fail to cheer me up and make me fall over in fits of laughter. They bring out the best in me – along with my weirdness but hey, weird is good! As one of my llamas said earlier, ‘I’m not me without you guys’ and I could say exactly the same thing about them. Although we have only been together for 3-ish years, I feel like I’ve known them for a lifetime and we have made so many amazing memories together that I will cherish forever.

As we are in our last year of secondary school, this September we will all be heading off in our separate ways and we were all quite upset about having to leave each other behind. We have been trying to make the most of every minute we have left together until school ends to make even more memories together (especially at prom in June). BUT when I got home from school earlier, the BEST thing ever happened!!!! I recieved a letter from the college/sixth form I will be starting in September ANDDDDDDDD it said that my future college and the other college in my town (where one of my llamas is going) are merging together and moving to a brand new building!!!!! Sooooo that means all of my llamas will be going to the same college after all AND we will have brand new facilities to learn in!! All of my worries about going to college and making new friends have gone out of the window now and I am 100000% excitied about leaving school and starting college! Of course me and my friends will still make the most of our last months together at school and our two month long summer holidays, but now we know we will be together for the next two years we are all crazily excited!!

Honestly, everyone deserves to have crazy llamas like mine in their lives – they literally mean the world to me and I couldn’t bare to be without them. I am so grateful to have them. Much love to my crazy llamas and all of my crazy internet friends too (who shall now be called my crazy alpaccas). ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Now I’m off to go meet some of the llamas and head back to school for a couple of hours! Byeeeee!

P.S the llama thing comes from a GIF – my friends are real people, not actual llamas, I’m not quite that weird! (Although llamas would make pretty cool friends as you could get them to spit on people you don’t like).

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//Stress and de-stressing//

Hello! So as you can probably tell from my lack of blogging this week, I have been VERY busy. It is now just under 4 weeks until exams start so revision is taking up most of my time right now. Although for the past week I have been having a little ‘break’ from revision as when I went back to school on Monday I was so stressed and exhausted from doing 3-4 hours of revision per day during the two-week break. So although I have only been doing half as much revision as I should have been, I still only managed to write one post – who knows whether I’ll be able to blog at all in the next few weeks and months??

I never though exams would stress me out so much. Last week I have just felt so exhausted and needed to sleep all the time. Plus I haven’t been having the best of weeks friend-wise so that hasn’t really helped.

However, whilst searching for ways to de-stress and chill a little before I lose my mind over revision, I came across meditation. I mean, obviously I have heard of meditation before – when I did martial arts in primary school we used to meditate at the beginning of the session so I thought why not try it again? I discovered this great app called Headspace which is free on Android and Apple and is basically a culmination of podcast lessons teaching you how to meditate. Unfortunately, you only get 10 lessons free but you can replay the sessions at any time so I’m probably just going to do the sessions over and over again. Each session lasts for 10 minutes and they are really easy to follow. So far I have done two sessions and I am really starting to notice the difference. I just feel generally calmer in myself and my mood has lifted a lot as I was feeling quite down last week. I recommend doing them in the morning so you start your day off on the right foot but I guess they would work any time you have a spare 10 minutes. I am going to attempt to do a session before I go to school each morning (depending on how much spare time I have) as I find this is the time when I am most stressed/nervous and could do with relaxing. I definitely recommend you check it out if you, like me, are extremely stressed over exams and revision right now.

Aside from stress, I have had quite a pleasant weekend. Yesterday I went to Airhop trampoline park (for the 4th time) for a friend’s birthday and it was really fun! Then today I participated in the annual St George’s Day parade with Scouts. We paraded through the local town then had a service in the park which was…interesting to say the least. About half way through the service, a French man ran in front of the vicar (and the roughly 200 Scouts + members of the public who gathered to watch the service) waving the European Union flag and shouting ‘don’t leave us Europe, tout le monde loves you!’ Everyone was a little shocked at first but after a few minutes some of the Scout leaders stood up and led him away from the front. As you will know (if you read my last post about the EU, which you can read here), I am a strong supporter of staying in the EU, and I guess this is kind of proof that Europe agrees with me (well, one man anyway)!

In other news, I wrote my first ever guest post this week for the awesome Feminista’s blog about Scouting and periods. I’m, really grateful for the Feminista’s for letting me guest post because I think just generally we need to reduce the stigma surrounding periods and I wanted to share my experiences of being female in a mainly male Scout group and all the problems that entails. I’d be really grateful if you could take a look at my post here and also The Feminista’s blog in general because they discuss many important topics which we could all do with considering and thinking about.

Finally, today I bought a new pair of shoes and I am soooo in love with them! Even though they are men’s shoes, I still bought them because they are such a nice colour and are really comfy. Plus I don’t see what’s wrong with wearing men shoes or men wearing womens shoes – shoes are shoes are shoes, right? Anyway, here they are:

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Anyway, that’s all for now. Can’t promise I’ll be able to post much or at all next week but I wish you all an amazing week anyway and hope to speak to you guys soon! 🙂

P.S Sorry for the bad photo quality!

//The EU Referendum: A Teen’s Perspective//

As a teenager – and therefore a member of the future adult generation – I believe it is important to be aware of the world around us and take an interest in the political decisions that the current generation of adults is making on behalf of our futures. One such decision being the UK’s upcoming EU referendum.

Background information:

  • The UK is holding an ‘in/out’ referendum on our EU membership on 23rd June 2016.
  • The UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, is in support of remaining in the EU and has negotiated deals for this outcome.
  • The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has declared his support for a ‘Brexit’ – Britain leaving the EU.
  • The government itself is divided, with the majority of Conservative (the majority party in the UK) MP’s supporting their leaders decision to remain.

Since taking up AS Level Government and Politics this year, I have gained an insight into the workings of politics, and consequently that of the EU itself. Specifically, I have studied about what powers/influence the EU has over the UK and what the EU itself does and have been able to develop my own opinion about whether the UK should remain a member of the EU or not.

Personally, I am a supporter of the ‘stronger in’ campaign, one of the main reasons being that I am not opposed to the EU having power over UK laws and being able to enforce laws on us. This is because EU law overrides national law of all of its member states meaning that in some cases UK law is insignificant due to an EU law that overpowers it. Although some would disagree with this as they do not believe that the EU – which doesn’t represent the people of the UK as well as Westminster Parliament itself does as the UK only makes up a small percentage of the European Parliament – should have more power over our laws than our national government.

Although I can’t deny the EU does have power to enforce laws in certain areas, the UK still currently has full control over: foreign, security, defense, trade, justice and economic policy. Those policy areas which the EU does have control over – for example environmental and agricultural policy – are, in my opinion, areas that affect and are relevant to Europe as a whole and are therefore more general policy areas so I think it is right that the EU is united on its policies for such areas.

Also the UK does have the right to veto (not accept) EU in certain policy areas meaning that for some things it is still in our national governments control whether we accept and implement these laws.

Therefore I don’t see EU laws overriding UK law as being that much of a problem of remaining in the EU.

Another reason why I believe we should remain a member of the EU is that being part of the EU means we don’t have to pay trading tariffs for imports and exports within the EU and it has been estimated that over 50% of our trading is done with Europe, so surely this must be a reason to stay within the EU?

Some argue that if we leave the EU we could become like Norway and still be a part of the free trade zone without actually being a member of the EU however I do not see the point in this as no deal has been made to secure this outcome if the UK does leave the EU.

A huge source of controversy surrounding the EU though is immigration as EU citizens are allowed to move freely between its member states. Some people are strongly against this as they believe that mass immigration is causing strain on housing and education among other things and that the only way to have full control of our national borders is to leave the EU. However, I have no problem with the free movement of citizens across the EU and personally think immigration is more of a benefit to the UK than a disadvantage as it helps to make or society more diverse and multicultural.

Overall, I’d like to say that as a teen it is important for us to think about these things as they will predominantly shape our futures. Whether you are an ‘inner’ or an ‘outer’, whether you agree with my view or not, I think it is vital that us teens get our voices heard and share our opinions regarding the EU referendum. Even if it’s just discussing it with your family or watching campaigns on the news, just because this is something that has been put in the hands of adults, doesn’t mean we can’t have opinions too.

When thinking about the benefits and costs of remaining or leaving the EU, it’s hard not to get tangled up in statistics that all seem to say different things, especially as a teen as the world of politics may seem very confusing and complex. However I hoped I have managed to explain my point of view adequately and will leave below a brief summary of my version of the different arguments below so you can make up your own mind.

Remaining in the EU:

  • Access to no trade tariffs.
  • Economic security/stability.
  • Access to the estimated 3 million jobs that the EU provides for UK citizens.
  • More influence on the world stage/in European affairs.
  • Less control over borders and immigration.
  • UK law can be overridden by EU law.
  • Government money continuing to be paid into the EU.
  • Less global influence.

Leaving the EU:

  • Control over immigration and borders.
  • Full control over UK laws.
  • Freedom to make trade deals with other countries.
  • Would save the government lots of money for not having to pay into the EU – ultimately giving individuals more money.
  • No one knows how much money will be gained/lost if we leave the EU – the UK may end up being financially worse off.
  • No deals have been negotiated with the EU for if the UK does leave so things like the suggested ‘Norway approach’ where we keep our trade link with the Eu may not actually be possible.
  • Making trade deals with other countries will even further reduce the amount of products sold in the UK that are manufactured in the UK – many people are strongly in favour of increasing the prominence of our national industries and leaving may decrease this.
  • Leaving the EU would cost the UK lots of jobs – estimated as 3 million – increasing job scarcity in the UK and possibly putting further pressure on the education system and increasing job competition within the UK.

Whether you are from the UK or not, I would love to know your opinion on this!

Thanks for reading this and considering mine. 🙂

P.S. featured image doesn’t belong to me.

//The calm before the storm//

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So today marks exactly a month until my first exam *gulp*. As far as revision is concerned, I am managing to stick to my timetable although some things are going better than others.

Maths – I have kind of hit a slump in my maths revision to be honest. I’m still sticking to my timetable and doing everything I planned to do, but I’m not putting much effort into it – I have no motivation to do maths right now. Probably because before the spring holidays I did a maths mock exam and got a really good grade so now I’m still kinda on a high from that I guess and don’t feel like working that hard (which isn’t a good state of mind to be in this close to exams). However I am not overly concerned because I go back to school on Monday and from then on I will be doing 4 hours of maths lessons a week as well as 4 hours of maths revision before and after school on top of what I am doing at home so hopefully that will be enough to get me through.

English – oh my gosh English is stressing me out SO MUCH. Mainly because the exam is in 5 weeks and I have noe clue what to do. We have only just started learning about our English Literature exam at school because we’ve spent the rest of the year focusing on English Language and our English Lit coursework. I know that the literature exam has two sections – one on unseen poetry and one on A View from the Bridge, which is the play I studied, but I have no idea how to actually answer the questions! The poetry question is worth 35 marks so is basically a mini-essay and we have been given this method of structuring our answers at school but I’m really struggling with it. Plus I have written about 5 practice answers for the poetry question and every time I have used a different structure (unintentionally, that’s just how it turned out) but because we had a mini swine flu epidemic in the South West last month, my teacher was off sick for ages and hasn’t had time to give me feedback, so I have no idea if what I am doing is right! As for the A View from the Bridge section, I have absolutely no clue whatsoever and that question is worth 40/45 marks so it’s more important! We haven’t practiced this question at all at school so all I can do revision-wise is re-read the play and note down key quotes (which I have done and still don’t feel prepared).

Science – surprisingly – as science is my worst subject – I am feeling pretty confident with science at the moment. For my science revision I highlight key facts in the revision guides, then put the facts on to a mind-map, then make flashcards with the facts on and answer the questions in the work book for each unit (of which there are 18 because I do triple science). It is a pretty time-consuming process as you can see but I feel like I have a pretty thorough approach to revising science and I really think layered revision is the key to doing well (although I have no idea why I don’t apply these techniques to other subjects). I do need to start using the flashcards more regualarly though but I tend to find them more effective as a kind of last-minute revision review for like the week before the exam so I can re-revise anything I have forgotten. Plus last night I actually dreamt about how metals conduct electiricty which is weird but it does prove my science reivison is working at least!

RE/RS – RE is actually my first exam so is the one that is in exactly one months time from today and I only started revising for it last week! However I find RE quite easy as there is hardly any content compared to other subjects, so therefore it doesn’t take that long to revise. I have actually revised half of RE already in just two weeks but I planned that so I could spend the rest of the time practice exam technique and questions. I am so thankful I have at least one subject that I don’t have to stress over!

French – I don’t really know how well French is going to be honest, I mean, since September we have been doing an exam per week in class and I was doing well in those exams before I even started revising. Apparently languages is my ‘natural talent’ which is probably why I enjoy French so much. For revision I am basically doing an online French course on Duolingo – the more words I learn, the better, right? I am 53% of the way through and by now I hoped to be more like 75% of the way through – I underestimated how time-consuming it would be basically. However I am still feeling fairly confident with French because I am still getting good grades in our weekly tests, so I must be doing something right.

Politics – politics is actually an AS Level not a GCSE because last year I took my Geography and History exams so had an extra 6 hours a week to fill, and hence ended up doing politics. I am really enjoying it but there is soooo much content to learn compared to GCSEs…I guess it is a good taster for what it will be like when I start college in September though. My politics revision is going ok-ish. I mean, I have made all the flashcards I need but I’m struggling to actually learn the flashcards – it takes like 3 hours to learn one topic (and there are six) and then I have to practice them everyday or else I forget. I have only learnt one topic so far and I’m going to try to learn another topic later so it’s less pressure for when I go back to school. The thing is with politics though, there are 8 topics in total and in each exam we are given questions on 4 of the topics and have to select two topics to actually answer. Therefore I decided to only revise 3 topics for each exam so if my favourite two topics have hard questions, I have a back up. But it’s been really hard to decide which topics not to revise and I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice but it’s too late now! Part of me wants to go and cram the other two topics because it doesn’t feel right not revising everything. Plus when I did the politics mock exam a few weeks back, I only revised two out of the four topics but ended up answering the topics I didn’t revise for, but still got an A!? So I’m a little confused about politics…

So that’s how my revision is going so far! I don’t really know what made me write this today, I guess it’s because revision is pretty much always on my mind. I don’t really know how active I’m going to be on my blog over the next few months. Hopefully I’ll still be posting a couple of times a week but I have no idea how well I’m going to cope with the stress of revising for like 3 hours a day as well as going to school or whether I’ll actually have time to get something decent typed up! So for now, good luck with your revision and exams everyone! 🙂

//Scouting for girls, scouting for all//

Today I read an article summarising the 2016 UK Scouting census which was full of statistics – some which made me very proud to be a member of such an inclusive youth movement, and others which made me realise there is still a long way to go before Scouting around the world is fully inclusive.

This year marks the 25 anniversary of girls being accepted and welcomed in to all sections of Scouting, for all age groups. 25 years is a relatively short amount of time compared to the 109 years that Scouting has been running in total. For just under a quarter of the Scouting movement’s lifetime, girls like me have been allowed to explore the outdoors, enjoy thrilling adventures and most importantly have fun with other youngsters whilst boys have been able to do so for 109 years.

Although 25 years of girls in Scouting is a very important and exciting milestone to have reached, it does disappoint me a little that it wasn’t until 84 years after Lord Baden-Powell hosted the first ever Scout camp on Brownsea Island and therefore created the Scouting movement, that girls were given the same amazing opportunities that Scouting has to offer as boys had nation-wide.

Despite this, I do feel very lucky and honored to be a representative 25% of the Scouting movement in the UK on this blog. Although I do wish the percentage of females in Scouting was higher, I’m sure, over the years, this figure will continue to grow and I want to be a part of that.

Over my 8 years in Scouting, I have seen the number of girls in my group steadily grow. When I first started in Cubs in 2007 – which was, coincidentally, the 100th year of Scouting – I was one of two girls in a Cub pack of around 30. A few years later when I moved up to Scouts, there were probably around 5 girls at any one time. Now I am an Explorer scout and am proud to say that my Explorer unit has a healthy, almost equal, balance of girls and boys.

Scouting has been such a life-changing experience for me –  I have grown in confidence, for a start, but I have also experienced so many extraordinary things that outside of Scouting I could never have dreamed of participating in and achieving .

For example: I have been white water rafting in the rapids of an Austria river, I have zip-lined over a ravine despite my fear of heights, I have led a group on a 10 mile hike in the middle of the night, map reading as well as completing various challenges along the way, I have learnt valuable skills such as first aid and fire safety, I have attended a national camp with over 7,000 participants from around the UK, I have visited the birthplace of Scouting – Brownsea Island, I have been on more muddy, wet, cold Scout camps than I can count on my fingers yet all these memories make me beam with happiness at as I remember them. I have done so much in Scouting that I never thought I could ever and would ever do, however there is still so much more I could do to ensure other girls and young people get to have opportunities like these and memories to last a lifetime.

That is why I’m blogging about Scouting, to get the word out that ‘Scouting is for girls and Scouting is for all’. That’s also why I have been a Young Leader at a Cub pack for 2 years now, to show the next generation of young people what Scouting is all about and to inspire more youngsters to join the adventure. As my Explorer leader said to me a few weeks ago – ‘people like you are the future of Scouting’. In the next 5, 10, 15 years it is going to be young people like me who already help to run and organise Scouting on a small scale, volunteering our free time despite having to study for exams and complete vast amounts of school work, to help youngsters get everything out of Scouting that I did when I was their age. It is going to be us that are going to be the face of Scouting in the years to come, adding to the already 115,000 strong network of adult volunteers in the UK. It’s my way of giving back to Scouting, for saying ‘thank you’ for everything it has helped me achieve and for making me the person I am today.

However, despite the fact that UK now has 573,000 members in the UK alone, it has been estimated that as much as 50% or more of the British population do not know that girls are welcomed into Scouting, and we need to change this.We need to spread the message that Scouting is for all.

Although in the UK I am able to be a Scout, in other countries around the world girls don’t have the same opportunity as I have to take part in Scouting and it’s not just girls either – in some other countries, youngsters are prevented from joining Scouting because of not just their gender but their sexuality, their race, their religion…the list goes on. Although I would love to see the day when the proportion of female Scouts in the UK equals or even beats that of males, even more so would I love to see the day that all youngsters around the world have the chance to be involved in such a wonderful movement.

Yes, Scouting in the UK is inclusive, and we are very lucky to have that, but Scouting around the world at the moment isn’t entirely inclusive. Not only do we need to spread the message within the UK that Scouting is for girls too, we need to do so in every country around the world. Scouting isn’t and shouldn’t be a gender specific youth movement in any country and in order to move towards a more equal society, we need to spread this message. Even if you are not or have not been involved in Scouting yourself, even if you don’t know anything about Scouting whatsoever, I hope that you will take away from this post that Scouting is for all and understand why it is so important to me and many others that this message is spread across the world so that Scouting isn’t known as ‘a youth movement for adventurous boys’ but ‘a youth movement for adventurous young people’.

//A little prom update!!!//

So today I have spent a grand total of 4 hours doing politics, maths and physics revision and I think it is fair to say I am absolutely exhausted! I still have about another hour of maths to do later today too so I’m giving myself a break in between.

Since my hand is killing me from writing like crazy for the past 4 hours – here is the evidence of all my hard-work:100_8027.JPGOh the joys of being left-handed…

Anyway, since my hands were aching and I can’t physically write anything without getting cramp, I decided to try out some hairstyles. For some reason braiding or just generally doing stuff with my hair helps to relax my hand muscles after writing for long periods of time (although it does make my arms ache so kind of a win-lose situation).

I’m still trying to decide what to do with my hair for prom so was searching on the internet (as you do) for some braided half up-do’s and came a blog called Twist Me Pretty and instantly fell in love with this particular hairstyle:15.jpgIt’s called a twisted crown braid and you can find the tutorial here.

So I decided to give it a try and it surprisingly not that hard once you get your head around it! Here is my attempt:100_798811.jpg100_799812.jpgI’m pretty pleased with it for a first attempt!! I actually really love this hairstyle and I THINK I might use it for prom but knowing me I’ll probably change my mind by then! But for now I’m thinking I will do the twisted crown braid but before I actually do that I’ll braid my hair to make it curlier because as you can see it is a little unpredictable and today is one of those days where it has decided to not be very curly. I do need to practice it a bit though as getting the bobby pins to stay in at the back is quite hard when you can’t actually see what you are doing.

Sticking with the subject of prom, yesterday I bought my bracelet for prom!!! So that means I have everything now: the dress, the shoes, the clutch bag (you can see all of these here), the jewellery…now all I need is to buy the ticket!!

Here is the bracelet I bought:100_8021.JPGAnd here are the earrings in case you don’t remember. I bought them a while ago and I’m so happy I managed to find a bracelet that has similar beads to my earrings so they kind of match!100_8020.JPGI’m so relieved to have finally got everything – at least that is one less thing to stress about!

Also this week I have gotten back into art a bit. I did a sketch of some fire tulips (not what they are actually called, but that’s what they look like and I don’t know their actual name) in my living room which I am actually quite pleased with. I don’t normally do still-life sketches so didn’t really know where to start but I got there eventually!
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And also yesterday I finished painting the cover of my sketchbook – I painted the front cover a few years ago but have only just got round to painting the back cover! It is inspired by this t-shirt I bought last summer and I am in love with pattern so much I NEEDED to paint it!

This is the t-shirt:
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Here is the back of the sketchbook and my version of the bird print:
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Here is the front of the sketchbook:
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Anyway, so that’s what I have been up to for the last couple of days. It feels odd still being on spring holidays when pretty much everywhere else is back at school. I keep waking up and thinking ‘oh no I’ve overslept – I should be at school’ then realising I don’t have to go back until Monday! It has really messed up my body clock but I guess it will all be alright when I go back to school (didn’t think I would ever write ‘alright’ and ‘school’ in the same sentence but there we go).

Hope you are all ok! Bye! 🙂

//Blogoversary!!//

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I decided to create a WordPress account and start my first blog. Honestly, I think that spur-of-the-moment decision was probably the best choice I’ve ever made.

Like the sentimental person I am, I wanted to say a few words in an attempt to express just how much blogging has changed my life and how much it means to me.

Considering I’ve been in the blogosphere for a whole year now, I though it would be nice to do a voice recording for you guys so you get to hear the voice (with all it’s awkwardness) behind these words.

The recording – which you can listen to here* – pretty much sums up everything I would have written in this post if Liss hadn’t told me how to link to Dropbox (thank you very much also a huge Happy Birthday to her (if your birthday is today, it’s confusing with time zones, haha), her and dani are absolutely amazing and are some of the first bloggers I ever met!).

*Apologies in advance for my terrible attempt at a West Country accent and just my general awkwardness and rambling on.

So, if you’ve listened to the recording and haven’t run in fear from my weirdness, I’d like to thank you all very much for being so kind and welcoming and friendly – honestly the blogging community means the world to me! ♥

Oooh yeah, I also made an infographic with a few statistics and stuff from over the year from all of my blogs, so… enjoy!

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Something I forgot to add into my recording: I’m going to set myself goals for my next year of blogging.

1. Don’t abandon the blog again without telling my followers until 2 months later (oops, sorry guys).

2. Post more poetry on the blog/some of my old poems.

3. Post voice recordings regularly (hopefully this will work out…idk it took like 20 attempts just to record this one!).

4. Maybe Skype some bloggers (because I love you guys so much and I need to get over my fear of calling people PLUS considering I can’t fly out and meet everyone, this is the next best thing) but this would probably have to be in the summer holidays because I have hardly any free time with exams and revision and stuff, ugh.

So, that’s pretty much it for my goals for my second year in blogging. Once again a massive thank you to everyone, you are all amazingly kinda and lovely – here’s to another year! 🙂 ♥